Archive for the ‘Jesus Psalms’ Category

“I Believe in God”

February 20, 2021

1st Sunday of Lent

“I believe in God,
  the Father almighty,
  creator of heaven and earth.
  I believe in Jesus Christ,
  his only Son, our Lord.”

Thus begins the Apostles’ Creed, the earliest known Christian creed. Like the later Nicene Creed, it opens with a statement: “I believe” which in Latin is “Credo,” and from this the Church’s authoritative summaries of our Christian Faith are called creeds. The Apostles’ Creed is so named because it is rightly considered a faithful profession of the Faith the apostles believed and preached. Since our return to public Masses, we have been proclaiming the Apostles’ Creed together on Sundays and solemnities. For this season of Lent, I am going to do something I have never tried before. Beginning this Sunday and continuing through the 5th Sunday of Lent, I will be preaching a homily series on the Apostles’ Creed. Week by week, we will unpack this, “the oldest Roman catechism,” and explore its meaning and implications for us. The Apostles Creed begins, as all things began, with God.

I believe in God. The whole creed speaks of God, and when it also speaks of man and of this world it does so in relation to God. Each passage in the creed tells us more about him, much like how God has progressively revealed himself to us, who he is and what he is like, more and more throughout salvation history. Who is God? God is the fullness of Being and of every perfection. God is without beginning and without end. God is Truth who cannot lie. The beginning of sin and of man’s fall was due to a lie of the tempter who sowed doubt concerning God’s word, faithfulness, and love. God is love. God’s very being is love. By sending his only Son and the Spirit of love in the fullness of time, God has revealed his innermost secret: God is an eternal exchange of love between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They call us to share in their personal communion of love now and forever, but the choice whether to respond is ours.

I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. God the Father is the Father of all. He is the origin of everything, of the Holy Trinity in eternity and of all Creation in history. The Father fashions the material universe and the spiritual realms distinct from and outside of himself, and by his gift he creates new life inside of them, including the angels and us. God the Father is transcendent authority, perfectly just, while providing good things and loving care for all his children.

The story of Noah’s Ark and the Great Flood from the Book of Genesis communicates important truths. God is our Creator with sovereignty over all he has made. He is holy and hates sin in his creatures. God’s Great Flood aims to wash away sin from the face of the earth and then begin anew through a new covenant with Noah. Yet the consequences of the Fall were neither cured nor cleansed; Noah and his household carried sin with them onto the ark and humanity’s waywardness continued after they disembarked.

This represents a cautionary tale for us against a common human error or misconception about how evil might be cancelled or conquered in this world. In 1945, the Russian writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was sentenced to a Soviet forced labor camp for his criticism of communist tyranny. After his release he went on to write his most famous work, “The Gulag Archipelago.” In it, the Christian Solzhenitsyn shares this true insight:

“If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”

We can and should work for change in this world, but advocacy for changing evils “out there” will prove ultimately futile without accompanying spiritual change within us. But how are we to accomplish this most difficult transformation inside our own hearts? Human history and our personal experience show we cannot achieve this on our own, so how shall we be saved?

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. On the cusp of his fruitful public ministry,

“The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert,
  and he remained in the desert for forty days,
  tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts…”

After the Fall of man, the garden paradise is replaced by a desert. The animals, formerly tame in the Garden of Eden, have become wild in our fractured world. Humanity now had a great debt with God it could not pay, a vast chasm between him and us we could not cross. The first Adam died unatoned, but a new Adam has come. The Eternal Son of God entered time and space and became human to reconcile God and man and establish a new covenant between us. Jesus comes to undo the Fall, dwelling in the desert among the wild beasts, to be tempted by the ancient serpent, the devil. Jesus comes to reclaim the crown that Adam had lost. Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, would be the Lord of all. He comes and proclaims:

“This is the time of fulfillment.
  The Kingdom of God is at hand.
  Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

During these forty desert days of Lent, Jesus invites you to approach him, asking his forgiveness in the Sacrament of Confession. He invites you dwell with him, spend time with him, encountering him through daily prayer and the Holy Eucharist. Jesus would accompany and strengthen you in your earnest battles against temptation, growing you in his virtues. And he would perfect your love, forming you in his likeness, preparing you for more fruitful works on earth and for the supreme, communal joy of Heaven. Now is the time for Confession, for prayer, for the Mass, growth in virtue, and growth in love.

The Holy Spirit would lead you out to Jesus during this desert retreat of Lent. And everything Jesus does for you, everything he does within you, is to lead you back to God our Father. I believe and proclaim that this is the Father’s will for you. Yet, despite all of almighty God’s infinite, omnipotent power, only you can freely choose whether to answer him with your “Yes.”

Jesus Psalms

July 30, 2020

To pray the psalms in a fresh new way, wherever you see “the LORD” in a verse substitute the name “Jesus“. For example, here is most of this Sunday’s psalm (Ps 145:8-21) as explicit praise and celebration of God the Son:

 

Jesus is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and abounding in mercy.

Jesus is good to all,
compassionate toward all your works.

All your works give you thanks, Jesus,
and your faithful bless you.

They speak of the glory of your reign
and tell of your mighty works,

Making known to the sons of men your mighty acts,
the majestic glory of your rule.

Your reign is a reign for all ages,
your dominion for all generations.

Jesus is trustworthy in all his words,
and loving in all his works.

The Jesus supports all who are falling
and raises up all who are bowed down.

The eyes of all look hopefully to you;
you give them their food in due season.

You open wide your hand
and satisfy the desire of every living thing.

Jesus is just in all his ways,
merciful in all his works.

Jesus is near to all who call upon him,
to all who call upon him in truth.

He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;
he hears their cry and saves them.

Jesus watches over all who love him,
but all the wicked he destroys.

My mouth will speak the praises of Jesus;
all flesh will bless his holy name forever and ever.

Jesus’ Longing for You

June 14, 2020

Corpus Christi Sunday—Year A

After the suspension in March, our parish went eleven weekends without the public celebration of Sunday Masses. Throughout Salvation History, the number forty symbolizes times of purification, preparation, and longing. For most people, being away meant about eighty days (forty twice over) without physically receiving our Eucharistic Lord. For many, their yearning for Jesus in the Eucharist has never been greater. Feast of Corpus Christi homily usually focus (quite fittingly) upon the Real Presence, the beautiful truth that Jesus Christ is truly present, body and blood, soul and divinity, alive in the Holy Eucharist. As St. Paul says in our second reading, “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the Blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the Body of Christ?” You are probably well-informed about this already; that’s why you have been longing for Him in the Eucharist. Today I feel moved to speak about Jesus Christ’s Eucharistic longing for you.

Jesus Christ’s desire for us is foreshadowed in the Old Testament; for instance, in The Song of Songs. There the beloved says of her spouse: “My lover speaks and says to me, ‘Arise, my friend, my beautiful one, and come! Let me see your face, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.’” Later this same man, prefiguring Christ, declares: “I have come to my garden, my sister, my bride; … I eat my honeycomb with my honey, I drink my wine with my milk. Eat, friends; [and] drink!

In the Book of Proverbs, God’s personified wisdom speaks: “Let whoever is naive turn in here; to any who lack sense I say, Come, eat of my food, and drink of the wine I have mixed! Forsake foolishness that you may live; advance in the way of understanding.” The foolishness we must forsake is our sins, for what is freely-chosen sin if not harmful foolishness? Jesus seeks to bring about sinners’ salvation, in part, through drawing them to his meal, to share his presence, his food and drink. Jesus once responded to criticisms of his ministry saying: “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, `Behold, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.

A Samaritan woman with many sins once asked Jesus, “How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” He answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” Later, on the last and greatest day of a Jewish feast, Jesus stood up in the temple area and exclaimed: “Let anyone who thirsts come to me and drink.” Before his miraculous multiplication of loaves of bread, Jesus called his disciples to himself and said, “I feel compassion for the people, because they have remained with me now three days and have nothing to eat; and I do not want to send them away hungry, for they might faint on the way.” Jesus wants to feed us (we who have remained with him) as well, to strengthen us on our way. The food and drink Jesus desires you and I to receive are not mere objects for bodily sustenance — it is his very self. “I am the living bread that came down from Heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever… For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.

At the Last Supper, which was the first Mass, Jesus told his disciples, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you… Take this, all of you, and eat of it, for this is my body, which will be given up for you.” Jesus earnestly desires to share his feast, this Mass, to unite with us today. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will enter his house and dine with him and he with me.” Jesus is divine, but he’s also human. He dwells in Heaven, but he has human desires for you and me and our world. If you have yearned for Jesus in the Eucharist, if you have desired to receive him these past months, consider how much more Jesus Christ longs and desires for you.

Rose in His Garden — Funeral for Rose “Rosie” Schindler, 90

December 17, 2019

After seeing ninety-one falls and ninety springs, Rosie has come to her funeral day. Today we pray for her soul with our greatest prayer, the Mass, that Rosie may rise to glory. A full Christian life like Rosie’s, married sixty-seven years, bearing five children, ten grandchildren and fifteen great-grandchildren, cannot be fully captured in one brief homily. But by taking one aspect of her life and holding it up in the light of Christ, we can see truths about her and God and us.

Rosie has many interests and loves, the farmstead, this parish, her family, her friends, but her hobby of first note was gardening. I’m told that Rosie had a huge garden and loved her flowers. She delighted in her plants, the beauty of their flowering, in the goodness of their fruits: raspberries, strawberries, blue berries, and blackberries: even crab-apples had their pleasing place for her. It is hard work to cultivate a garden well, but she rejoiced in her results.

Now something Rosie could have done, had she preferred it, would have been to raise just a single plant; but she wanted more than just one. Or, Rosie could have chosen to grow only one variety of plant in her huge garden; a mass of plants all uniform, every one the same. But what gardener does this? Raising just a single plant, or having just one breed of plant, is not what God does either in the garden of this world. Listen to these words of “the Little Flower,” St. Therese of Lisieux, about the divine gardener’s design:

“Our Lord showed me the book of nature, and I understood that every flower created by him is beautiful, that the brilliance of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not lessen the perfume of the violet or the sweet simplicity of the daisy. I understood that if all the lowly flowers wished to be roses, nature would lose it’s springtime beauty and the fields would no longer be enameled with lovely hues.”

God the Father did not plant his Son into the world to raise him up alone. God plants and tends and grows verities of people with Jesus. Jesus possessed the fullness of the beatitudes in their beauty, while we (in greater or lesser measure) bear blossoms and fruits of humility, mercy, purity, & sacrifice.

But what if I am struggling to live and grow because I’m not planted in his good soil? What if my behaviors are choking off the life of my neighbors in the garden? What if I am unfruitful because I have refused to be pruned? What if I am in danger of one day being uprooted as a weed? Then I must allow myself to be replanted and pruned by Jesus through his sacraments and through my choices, cooperating with the divine gardener, growing day-by-day, until my fall and harvest comes.

Look at these flowers donated for Rosie’s funeral. They have a variety of colors and flower types and the church is more beautiful for their uniqueness and diversity. Likewise, there is a is place for each of us in this church. Today we mourn yet rejoice in a beautiful Rose. May this day cause you and me to live in Christ, grow and blossom in our Lord, and bear sweet fruits in him as well.

Jesus Psalm 12

May 6, 2015

Help, Jesus, for no one loyal remains;
the faithful have vanished from the children of men.
They tell lies to one another,
speak with deceiving lips and a double heart.

May Jesus cut off all deceiving lips,
and every boastful tongue,
Those who say, “By our tongues we prevail;
when our lips speak, who can lord it over us?”

“Because they rob the weak, and the needy groan,
I will now arise,” says Jesus;
“I will grant safety to whoever longs for it.”

The promises of Jesus are sure,
silver refined in a crucible,
silver purified seven times.

You, Jesus, protect us always;
preserve us from this generation.
On every side the wicked roam;
the shameless are extolled by the children of men.


Jesus Psalms substitute instances of “(the) Lord” with “Jesus” as a way to pray the psalms afresh.

5 Fresh Ways to Pray the Psalms

April 3, 2015

Daily prayer is essential to the Christian life and the psalms are prayers  inspired for us by God. They were prayed in the Old Testament Jewish Temple and within the New Covenant Christian Church up to our day. Here are five fresh ways to pray the psalms:

Mount Calvary's Cross - Sacred Heart Catholic Church -  Wauzeka WI1.  Pray Jesus’ Passion Psalms

For thousands of years, Jews have ritually prayed Psalms 113–118 at their Passover meals. These are psalms of joy and thanksgiving at God delivering his people. At the Last Supper, Jesus and his apostles chanted these psalms: “Then, after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.” (Mark 14:26, Matthew 26:30)

Later, hanging on the cross, Jesus said, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” This is the opening line of Psalm 22, which describes the anguish of someone suffering just like Jesus. For example, it says, “They have pierced my hands and my feet…” The psalm, however, ends in hope: “I will live for the LORD.”

Praying these psalms (113-118 & 22) can connect us more to Jesus and his Passion.

2.  Pray the Psalms Through Jesus or Mary

Fleur-De-Lis - Sacred Heart Catholic Church -  Wauzeka WIWould you like to read Jesus and Mary’s prayer book? This is what we have in the psalms. Being faithful Jews, Jesus and his mother would have known them well and prayed them often. A fresh way to approach the psalms is to open yourself to sharing in Jesus or Mary’s thoughts and emotions. Praying with their minds and hearts helps us to experience the psalms with new insights and depths.

3.  Pray the Psalms to Jesus

Jesus said, “The Father and I are one,” and St. Paul wrote, “Jesus Christ is Lord.” (John 10:30, Philippians 2:11) Therefore, wherever the psalms mention “(the) Lord,” substituting “Jesus” usually applies just as truly. Here, for example, is a converted passage from Psalm 27:

Hear my voice, Jesus, when I call;
have mercy on me and answer me.
“Come,” says my heart, “seek his face”;
your face, Jesus, do I seek!

Praying the psalms’ to Jesus in this way brings us personally closer to him. Here are a few suggested Jesus Psalms: 3, 27, 86, 100, 103, & 138.

4.  Pray Repeating Each Line of the Psalm

Burning Incense - Sacred Heart Catholic Church -  Wauzeka WIAs you read through a psalm, pray each line twice, meditating on the profound, absolute truth of each statement. Praying in this way helps to make the prayer “yours” and yields greater focus and personal conviction.

5.  Pray the Psalms for Others

Some people do not, or cannot, pray the psalms. Some lack belief in God and prayer. Others feel too overwhelmed by their pains, anxieties, or other burdens to offer these prayers themselves. Among the 150 psalms there are prayers for the vast range of human experience. Not everyone will resonate with your personal situation on a particular day, but each one is exactly the prayer that, somewhere, someone else desperately needs. Pray it for them to help them go through their darkness into the light.

Jesus Psalm 4

March 31, 2015

Answer me when I call, my saving God.
When troubles hem me in, set me free;
take pity on me, hear my prayer.

How long, O people, will you be hard of heart?
Why do you love what is worthless, chase after lies? Selah

Know that Jesus works wonders for his faithful one;
Jesus hears when I call out to him.

Tremble and sin no more;
weep bitterly within your hearts,
wail upon your beds,
offer fitting sacrifices
and trust in Jesus.

Many say, “May we see better times!
Jesus, show us the light of your face!” Selah

But you have given my heart more joy
than they have when grain and wine abound.

In peace I will lie down and fall asleep,
for you alone, Jesus, make me secure.


Jesus Psalms substitute instances of “(the) Lord” with “Jesus” as a way to pray the psalms afresh.

Jesus Psalm 34

March 30, 2015

I will bless Jesus at all times;
his praise shall be always in my mouth.
My soul will glory in Jesus;
let the poor hear and be glad.

Magnify Jesus with me;
and let us exalt his name together.
I sought Jesus, and he answered me,
delivered me from all my fears.

Look to him and be radiant,
and your faces may not blush for shame.
This poor one cried out and Jesus heard,
and from all his distress he saved him.

The angel of Jesus encamps
around those who fear him, and he saves them.
Taste and see that Jesus is good;
blessed is the stalwart one who takes refuge in him.

Fear Jesus, you his holy ones;
nothing is lacking to those who fear him.
The rich grow poor and go hungry,
but those who seek Jesus lack no good thing.

Come, children, listen to me;
I will teach you fear of Jesus.
Who is the man who delights in life,
who loves to see the good days?

Keep your tongue from evil,
your lips from speaking lies.
Turn from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.

The eyes of Jesus are directed toward the righteous
and his ears toward their cry.
Jesus’ face is against evildoers
to wipe out their memory from the earth.

The righteous cry out, Jesus hears
and he rescues them from all their afflictions.
Jesus is close to the brokenhearted,
saves those whose spirit is crushed.

Many are the troubles of the righteous,
but Jesus delivers him from them all.
He watches over all his bones;
not one of them shall be broken.

Evil will slay the wicked;
those who hate the righteous are condemned.
Jesus is the redeemer of the souls of his servants;
and none are condemned who take refuge in him.


Jesus Psalms substitute instances of “(the) Lord” with “Jesus” as a way to pray the psalms afresh.